Aromatario del Giglio – 15th Century Rossetto (Rouge)

LaBellaDonna Create Perfume

I want to invite you to visit Aromatario del Giglio, the La Bella Donna Apothecary! Here is the link,

I’ve just made a fresh batch of Rossetto, our 15th Century Italian Rouge. Another perfect addition to your living history kit or your modern organic eco-toilette!

This cheek and lip stain is made from organic ingredients combined exactly as Caterina Sforza recommended in her 16th Century Book of Secrets, ‘Gli Experimenti’. In that manuscript she recorded over 25 beauty recipes. This one is titled ‘Rossetto ligiadrissimo et eccellentissimo’ (Rouge very light and most excellent). The recipe was translated by me, made with love, and packaged with care in a recycled glass container.

Use it when you are readying yourself to attend a living history event, or anytime you want to pamper yourself with handmade, organic


This listing is for a 1/2 ounce corked bottle of Rossetto. A little goes a long way and this small package is a great value. My first bottle of this rosy red rouge lasted me two years with biweekly use. Use an applicator and not your fingers! It will stain them :)

Ingredients: red sandalwood, acqua vitae (distilled organic wine).

To use: Use a cotton swab or sea sponge to add a dab to your cheeks or lips for a beautiful rosy hue. This product is 100% organic with no additives.

According to the reference ‘A Modern Herbal’, red sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus) is an astringent and tonic used primarily as a colorant.

Handcrafted in my own personal still- room in New Orleans, Louisiana. I use primary source recipes from Renaissance and Medieval manuscripts along with organic, all-natural ingredients that do not contain chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances or synthetic chemicals. I use pure herbs, spices, oils, vegetables, and occasionally a mineral pigment known as iron oxide. THAT’S IT. My products are safe and simple.

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For more historical information on all manner of things relevant to the Renaissance Woman visit the FaceBook:

All La Bella Donna Apothecary products are handmade in small batches. They have a long lifespan due to the natural properties of the oils and herbs used. Store in a cool, dry place for best results. The packaging is recycled glass or recycled paper when possible and responsibly manufactured material in all other cases.

Elizabethan Rouge vs. Medicean Rossetto Part 1

Elizabethan make-up is similar to the style of make-up used in Italy a century earlier.

shakespeare and the death of queen elizabeth by david schajer

“Her face make-up of white powder, rouge and lip dye glazed with egg white had set the fashion for other Elizabethan women. She also plucked her eyebrows and forehead to reveal a greater expanse of white skin, a medieval habit that persisted throughout the Tudor and Elizabethan periods. To draw attention to her high plucked forehead and simulate the translucency of a perfect white skin, Elizabeth even painted artificial veins on her brow. This quaint cosmetic device was most probably used to replace, in middle age, the natural beauty of a youthful complexion.”           – The Artificial Face by Fenja Gunn p.85

Just like the Italians, and verified through paintings and reading different sources, the Elizabethan women treasured a very pale complexion, they plucked the hairs on the forehead, and used rouge on the cheeks and lips. Their rouge was made with pigments, oil, and rosewater. Popular pigments were cochineal (a beetle), madder, and alkanet root.
Interested in rouge recipes? Here are two:

Spanish Wooll – XIV. Wherewith women paint their faces red.

Boil shearings of Scarlet in water of quick-lime half an hour, of which take two pound, to which put Brazil two ounces (rasped) Roch Alom, Verdegrise, of each one ounce, Gum-Arabick two drachms, boil all for half an hour, which keep for use.

Economical Rouge – Fine Carmine, pulverized and prepared for for this purpose [rouge], is without doubt the best of all Paints, and which the Ladies ought to adopt. In order to use it in an agreeable and frugal manner, procure some fine pomatum, without scent, made with the fat of pork and white wax; take about the bigness of a pea of this pomatum, and lay it upon a piece of white paper; then with the end of a tooth-pick add to it about the bigness of a pin’s head of Carmine— mix it gently with your finger, and when you have produced the tone you wish, rub in it a little compressed cotton, and pass it on the face, till the Paint is quite spread and it no longer feels greasy.

Ladies have nothing to fear from this economical Rouge—it neither injures the health or skin, and imitates perfectly the natural colour. (Constant de Massoul, Treatise on the Art of Painting and the Composition of Colours)

apothecary rossetto tint

Aromatario del Giglio – The La Bella Donna Apothecary

1550 Fontainbleu Venus at Her Toilette


Ciao! This is my first post about the Aromatario del Giglio (Apothecary of the Lily), an extension of the La Bella Donna living history blog. I am Gigi, an herbalist and living history participant who (as you know) loves to indulge herself in historical cosmetic and apothecary products made from authentic recipes of the medieval and renaissance time periods. In my new (Square Market) store I will share products based on my research finds with you and help you indulge yourself in luxurious bath and body products made from authentically reproduced recipes with historical origins (1300 AD – 1600 AD). Each product is made with love by hand in my personal still-room with organic ingredients.

My introductory line-up is as follows:

  • Rossetto – 15th Century Rouge of Caterina Sforza
  • Rossetto – 17th Century Rouge of Michel Notredame
  • Oglio Imperiale – 16th Century Beard and Hair Oil from Alessio Piemontese
  • Polvere Eccelentissima – 15th Century Body Powder
  • Polvere di Capelli – 15th Century Hair Powder
  • Polvere di Veli – 15th Century Veil Powder
  • Polvere di Denti – 16th Century Tooth Powder
  • Sapone Con Le Rose – 16th Century Castile Soap with Rose Petals
  • Contra Rosseza – 15th Century Face Whitener
  • Unguentum Galeni – 2nd Century Cold Cream (Moisturizer, Makeup Remover, Healing Cream)
  • Acqua per Mani – 16th Century Handwash
  • Miele e Fiori – Herbal Honey
  • Limone e Lavanda Sciroppo – Lemon Lavender Syrup (Add to water for a refreshment)
  • Mediterranean Sea Sponges – For applying cosmetics and bath products

I am happy to team up with Lady Heodez De Talento Minotto to direct you to complimentary historical perfumes and floral waters that are made from authentic pre-17th century recipes! Her link is also below.

Visit The (Work In Progress) Square Market Store:
Visit My Twitter: @fleurtyherald
Visit The FaceBook:
Visit My YouTube Channel: coming soon!

Lady Heodez De Talento Minotto’s Store:

Aromatario Fregio

Intrecciatura: Italian Fingerloop Braiding

Intrecciatura (fingerloop braiding) success! My first period trecce (braid) that I will use for lacceti (laces) on my gamurra. I used three red bows on the left and two green ones on the right to make a pattern.

My finished laccio.

My finished laccio.

Here are the period directions I used:

For to make a round lace of 5 bowys (Harleian 3, 15th C)
Do 5 bows on thy fingers as thou didst in the broad lace. Then shall A right take through B and C of the same hand the bow C of the left hand reversed. Then low thy left bows. Then shall A left take through B and C of the same hand the bow C of the right hand reversed. Then low thy right bows, and begin again.

Background and Sources

Fingerloop braiding (intrecciatura) is a technique for making cord (corda) or laces (lacci/o, lacetto/i) where the threads to be braided are placed in loops over the fingers and exchanged using a series of patterns. The braids can be made by one person, but there are also variations that use two people. This type of braiding is found across medieval and renaissance Europe, and is known to have been used in the Italian city-states.

Thomas More described the “lase” by writing, “Ne None so small a trifle or conceyte, Lase, girdle, point, or proper gloue straite”. From his quote, I’ve chosen to call the braids laces or laccio/i if they are not tipped with a metal point, or agugello, and to call them points or punte if they are. These laces were used to tighten all manner of items from spiral lacing on the front or side of a gown, lacing a doublet front, holding up men’s hosen, tying armor to the padded jacket beneath, hold on hats, serve as cloak cords, provide trim to sleeves or collars, formed into frogs to close a garment, or used ad edging to a hairnet.

Two manuscripts from the 15th century give us primary source details on the directions for making the laces:

  • Treatise on the Making of Laces from the Tollemache Book of Secrets, a 15th century household book belonging to Lady Catherine Tollemache with 64 braids
  • Directions for Making Many Sorts of Laces from the British Library MS Harley 2320, another 15th century household book with 40 braids
I made mine on break at work. It only took 15 minutes to make a short laccio.
IMG_0151 IMG_0155 IMG_0163
Buona fortuna on your braiding adventures!

A washing guide for linen


Who knew? I sure didn’t! Here are some important tips for keeping your linen garb immaculately spiffy!

Originally posted on :

I sometimes get questions about linen. I will try to answer those questions here, without getting too technical. But here are some technical facts anyway ;) The linen fibers are straight (think of straight hair, the fibers look very much the same). This means they have almost zero flexibility and stretch. They contain natural glue. When spinning the thread, water is added to the fibers and the glue sticks them together, which makes the thread really strong.
1. When buying fabric. It’s preferable that you wash your linen before you make something out of it. Linen shrinks about 5% during the first washing. Some qualities may shrink as much as 10%.
2. To avoid permanent breakage of the fibers you need to pre-soak the fabric. This is easiest to do in a bath tub. Try to lay the fabric down as flat as possible. I always try to go from…

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Printed Matter During the Italian Renaissance

Renaissance Printing… has fascinated me lately. I began researching the subject in preparation for launching my 16th century apothecary. I wanted to make sure that the printed material for the shop resembled period pamphlets and was inspired by Katherine Kerr’s Hermitage website where she lists her projects down in Lochac. Here is what I have found so far:

Chapbooks (mostly 17th century, though) were small publications that contained songs, poems, political treatises, folk stories, religious tracts, and all manner of short texts. In general, chapbooks were inexpensive publications designed for the poorer literate classes. They were typically printed on a single sheet of low-quality paper, folded to make eight, sixteen, or twenty-four pages, though some examples were longer still. Closely related to the chapbook were two other forms also hawked in the streets during the same period.

Chapbook 8 page from library dot sc dot edu

The Lilly Library Chapbook Collection, comprising 1900 texts, has a web-based search engine dedicated solely to chapbooks.

The Glasgow University Library’s Special Collections Department has a web-based search engine that lists over 1200 “chap-books”.

Broadsides were printed on one side, and a broadsheet was printed on both. In its heyday of the first half of the 17th century (though there are many 16th century examples), a broadside ballad was a single large sheet of paper printed on one side (hence “broad-side”) with multiple eye-catching illustrations, a popular tune title, and an alluring poem—the latter mostly in black-letter, or what we today call “gothic,” type. They ranged from large proclamations (approx 1000 x 500 mm) to small handbills (200 x 150 mm); typically with a multi-sentence title header, a large woodcut illustration and a double-column, right-registered format with a large woodcut initial and smaller woodcut sidebars. This link hosts Broadsides. Smaller slip-poems were printed on a long strip of paper cut from a larger sheet. You can find more facsimiles of many of the original 16th century sheets here:

broadside 1620 Magdalene college pepys 1248-249

During the 15th century a type of book called a zibaldone became popular on the Italian peninsula. A zibaldone, a predecessor to the item known as a commonplace book in English, was written in the Italian vernacular and contained handy information for the owner in a portable bound volume.

An English zibaldone dating to the 15th century, the Book of Brome, contains poems, notations on memorial law, lists of expenses, and diary entries.

Zibaldone were made of paper and were much smaller than the large desk registers of the time. They often lacked the ornamentation and illumination of other types of books, and contained devotional, technical, literary, and documentary texts. The Zibaldone da Canal, a Venetian merchant’s book, contained taxes, exchange rates, medical remedies, recipes, quotations, ship drawings, merchant culture information, and excerpts from popular literary works. Giovanni di Paolo Rucellai was the compiler of the most well known examples of zibaldone (Kent 2000). Giovanni was well-acquainted with the classics and he kept a zibaldone into which he copied his translations of passages from Greek and Latin authors such as Senaca the Younger and Aristotle (Cosenza).

The zibaldone, or commonplace book, can be used as a model for event booklet, personalized journals, recipe collections, etc. A blank or pre-printed journal with passages collected under common headings: quotes, poems, recipes, lists, laws, prayers, jokes, heraldic blazons, predictions, mathematical tables, astronomical/astrological lore etc, representing the writer’s interests or whatever “noble thoughts” the education system or parents through they should have. Their format varied (period examples: 312 x 200mm, 207 x 140mm). Usually paper, with vellum commonly used as a cover, tied with silk ties; sometimes covered in a leather wallet binding, closed with a strap and buckle. See Commonplace Books, Yale

View over 250 digitized Renaissance festival books (selected from over 2,000 in the British Library’s collection) that describe the magnificent festivals and ceremonies that took place in Europe between 1475 and 1700 – marriages and funerals of royalty and nobility, coronations, stately entries into cities and other grand events.

Vade mecum** (aka girdle book, belt book, folded book, my favorite type of book for the apothedary) is a handbook or guide that is kept constantly at hand for consultation. It was used in period for ball cheat sheets, event information. A veritable “period filofax”, it consisted of sheets folded into a small size and bound together so as to be readily tucked into a belt for ready reference; used for astronomical almanacs and doctors’ manuals with each sheet holding a different topic. The formats main feature is the stab-stitch binding of a series of folded single sheets. Boston College example here

This blog, also reports links to more sites with facsimiles of vade mecum (lit. go with me) like the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC).

girdle book boston college

More links:

A 1595 Geneva Bible at Northwestern . . . and water damage. An interesting Renaissance Bible owned by a Revolutionary War-era family in Massachusetts is at Northwestern today, and its inscriptions tell us something about its remarkably damaged condition.

News: “Renaissance Books, Midwestern Libraries.” I discuss the first stage of a Humanities Without Walls Initiative project designed to register Northwestern’s early imprints (1473-1700) with the English Short Title Catalogue.

A 1549 Giolito Anthology at Northwestern. I examine an influential early anthology of Italian poetry at Northwestern’s McCormick Library of Special Collections. Interesting foredge inscription & marginalia.

MS Annotations in a 17c Polyglot Dialogue Book. A book of dialogues in eight languages currently held at Northwestern University. Professor Susan Phillips has written about it, and it includes some interesting French marginalia in the Italian column.

Guest Post: A c16 Italian Grammar Owned By Robert Sackville. Published in the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center blog, this post recounts my discovery of Robert Sackville’s copy of William Thomas’s Principal Rvles of the Italian Grammer (London, 1567). Sackville was son to Queen Elizabeth I’s cousin Thomas Sackville; the owner’s inscription appears on the book’s title page.

A c16 Italian Grammar Book owned by Robert Sackville. A longer post on the Sackville copy of Thomas’s Principal Rvles held at the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center.


New Event Concept Allows Easterners to Explore Research in a Novel Way.

Originally posted on East Kingdom Gazette:

Voyages of Discovery - 10

On Saturday October 25, in Carolingia, over 70 Easterners participated in a new way to hold an event. There was a autocrat, gate, classes, even a musician playing in the social hall throughout the day. There was even a dayboard, unconventional as it was. (Those who pre-registered had the option of ordering a burrito lunch catered in) What there wasn’t, was garb, court, or people in persona.

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